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Article: Bangladeshi War of IndependenceIndo-Pakistani War of 1971

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    Bangladeshi War of IndependenceIndo-Pakistani War of 1971

    34 Comments by Doc Vernon Published on 16th February 2016 09:22 PM
    PLEASE NOTE This Article is being posted on behalf of Red Lead Ted


    India-Pakistan Conflict Hub

    NB: Please note that the copyright of all the material belongs to CTW Houston, as the beneficiary of Capt HP Houston's will. Any use of relevant material will have to be acknowledged.


    Bangladeshi War of IndependenceIndo-Pakistani War of 1971
    The third war between India and Pakistan took place between November 22 (when the Indian's began providing active artillery support to the seperatists) and Dec 17, 1971.
    The origins of the third Indo-Pakistani conflict (1971) were different from the previous conflicts. The Pakistani failure to accommodate demands for autonomy in East Pakistan in 1970 led to secessionist demands in 1971. In March 1971, Pakistan's armed forces launched a fierce campaign to suppress the resistance movement that had emerged but encountered unexpected mass defections among East Pakistani soldiers and police. The Pakistani forces regrouped and reasserted their authority over most of East Pakistan by May.
    As a result of these military actions, thousands of East Pakistanis died at the hands of the Pakistani army. Resistance fighters and nearly 10 million refugees fled to sanctuary in West Bengal, the adjacent Indian state. By midsummer, the Indian leadership, in the absence of a political solution to the East Pakistan crisis, had fashioned a strategy designed to assist the establishment of the independent nation of Bangladesh. As part of this strategy, in August 1971, India signed a twenty-year Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation with the Soviet Union. One of the treaty's clauses implied that each nation was expected to come to the assistance of the other in the event of a threat to national security such as that occurring in the 1965 war with Pakistan. Simultaneously, India organized, trained, and provided sanctuary to the Mukti Bahini (meaning Liberation Force in Bengali), the East Pakistani armed resistance fighters.
    Unable to deter India's activities in the eastern sector, on December 3, 1971, Pakistan launched an air attack in the western sector on a number of Indian airfields, including Ambala in Haryana, Amritsar in Punjab, and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir. The attacks did not succeed in inflicting substantial damage. The Indian air force retaliated the next day and quickly achieved air superiority. On the ground, the strategy in the eastern sector marked a significant departure from previous Indian battle plans and tactics, which had emphasized set-piece battles and slow advances. The strategy adopted was a swift, three-pronged assault of nine infantry divisions with attached armored units and close air support that rapidly converged on Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan. Lieutenant General Sagat Singh, who commanded the eighth, twenty-third, and fifty-seventh divisions, led the Indian thrust into East Pakistan. As these forces attacked Pakistani formations, the Indian air force rapidly destroyed the small air contingent in East Pakistan and put the Dhaka airfield out of commission. In the meantime, the Indian navy effectively blockaded East Pakistan. Dhaka fell to combined Indian and Mukti Bahini forces on December 16, bringing a quick end to the war.
    Action in the western sector was divided into four segments, from the cease-fire line in Jammu and Kashmir to the marshes of the Rann of Kutch in northwestern Gujarat. On the evening of December 3, the Pakistani army launched ground operations in Kashmir and Punjab. It also started an armored operation in Rajasthan. In Kashmir, the operations were concentrated on two key points, Punch and Chhamb. The Chhamb area witnessed a particularly intense battle where the Pakistanis forced the Indians to withdraw from their positions. In other parts of Kashmir, the Indians made some small gains along the cease-fire line. The major Indian counteroffensive came in the Sialkot-Shakargarh area south and west of Chhamb. There, two Pakistani tank regiments, equipped with United States-made Patton tanks, confronted the Indian First Armored Corps, which had British Centurion tanks. In what proved to be the largest tank battle of the war, both sides suffered considerable casualties.
    Within hours of outbreak of hostilities, the Indian Missile Boat Group was ordered to execute operation Trident, the code name for the first attack on Karachi. The task group consisting of three OSA class missile boats, escorted by two Kamorta class anti-submarine patrol vessels, regrouped off Okha and charged towards Karachi. At 2150 hrs on December 4, the task group was 70 nautical miles south-west of Karachi. Soon thereafter, the task group detected patrolling Pakistani naval ships on their sensors. The deadly missiles were heading towards their targets which were soon hit. PNS Khyber, a destroyer and PNS Muhafiz, a minesweeper were sunk. Another Pakistani destroyer Shajehan was badly damaged. The fuel storage tanks at Karachi harbour were set ablaze, causing heavy loss. Operation Trident was a thundering success with no damage to any of the ships of the Indian Naval Task Group, which returned safely. Operation Trident had introduced to the war, the first ever ship launched missiles in the region.
    Enthused by the success of this attack, the Indian Navy planned another offensive operation, code named Python. The continued presence of the Indian Navyís larger ships is the area gave enough indication to the Pakistani naval authorities that more offensive operations were in the offing. The Pak aerial surveillance was stepped up and their ships attempted to outsmart the Indian Navy by mingling with merchant shipping. Notwithstanding these measures by the Pakistanis, operation Python was launched on the night on December 8 and 9, 1971. Despite bad weather and rough seas, the task group consisting of missile boat Vinash and two multipurpose frigates, executed the attack with razor sharp precision. INS Vinash approached close to the Karachi coast and fired four missiles. The first missile struck the fuel tanks at the Keamari Oil Farm. The other three missiles hit the merchant tankers Harmattan, Gulf Star and the Pakistani naval tanker Dacca. More than 50 percent of the total fuel requirement of the Karachi zone was reported to have been blown up. Operation Python was another great success.
    Though the Indian conduct of the land war on the western front was somewhat timid, the role of the Indian air force was both extensive and daring. During the fourteen-day war, the air force's Western Command conducted some 4,000 sorties. There was little retaliation by Pakistan's air force, partly because of the paucity of non-Bengali technical personnel. Additionally, this lack of retaliation reflected the deliberate decision of the Pakistan Air Force headquarters to conserve its forces because of heavy losses incurred in the early days of the war.

    BHARAT RAKSHAK MONITOR - Volume 4(4) January-February 2002





    Trident, Grandslam and Python: Attacks on Karachi*
    B. Harry****** *
    "Well old boy,this happens in war.I am sorry your ships have been sunk" - C-in-C PAF to his naval counterpart in 1971
    "This is the best Diwali we've ever seen!" - The attacking force,"Trishul"
    Pakistan's Naval headquarters was based at the historic and strategic port of Karachi here almost their entire fleet was concentrated. Karachi not only represented the area of maximum strategic importance, but also was also critical for Pakistanís external trade and maritime interests, meaning that a blockade would be disastrous for Pakistanís economy. For these reasons, the port received some of the best defence Pakistan had to offer as well as cover from strike aircraft based at two airfields in the proximity. However, this did not stop the Indian Navy from knocking on Pakistan's doorstep and blasting Karachi in some of the most audacious, brilliantly planned and executed operations in the history of naval warfare which shocked the world. The offensive stance taken, the role played and the amount of damage done, by the Indian Navy was quite a different story from that of its lack of performance during the 1965 Indo-Pak conflict. After Pakistan declared a national emergency on 23 Nov 1971,3 Osa-I class missile boats were deployed at Okha to carry out patrols from which they gained valuable experience. The task force assigned to attack Karachi harbour comprised of 4 Missile boats each armed with 4 SS-N-2B Styx anti-ship missiles and 2 Petya class sub-chasers. One of the 4 missile boats was to remain on patrol off Dwarka to provide cover for the task force on it's way back The reason for selecting these small untried Osa-I missile boats over regular vessels was due to the fact that they would represent difficult, fast moving targets and would enable the operation to be carried out in complete stealth. The Petyas were mainly to provide communication and control and give indication of suitable targets with their superior radar as well as possible ASW cover.
    The plan was to strike Karachi with a composite force on the very day that Pakistan carried out its first acts of war. Pakistan attacked Indian airfields on the evening of the 3rd of December but since it was not possible to attack on the same evening, the attacks were planned for the night of 4/5 December which was to be coordinated with simultaneous aerial bombardment from the IAF. However, the Osa-I missile boats, built specifically for coastal defence did not have the range and endurance to carry out any sort of long range offensive operations hence was evolved the tactical decision to tow them to a certain point south of Karachi harbour from where they would proceed at full speed to carry out the attack. The squadron commander embarked on one of the attacking vessels would allocate targets and the missile boats would thereafter act independently, keeping in touch with the Squadron commander. The Petyas were to follow at a slower speed but stay not too far away from the rendezvous. Naval Headquarters and the HQ of the Western naval command were to listen in on Pakistani wireless circuits and pass the relevant intelligence to the force. The excellent photos of Karachi brought back by the IAF's No.106 Strategic PR Squadron were an invaluable asset for the operation. Another unusual asset was the fluency of the Indian crew in the Russian language, which was chosen to be taught to the Indian sailors who were deputed for training in the Soviet Union in order to ease the entire process. Indeed, communication between the attacking vessels was extensively in Russian, which proved to be extremely useful. These unique innovations introduced into the operations by the Indian Navy ensured their success in advance.
    Operation Trident
    The first missile attack on Karachi was to be undertaken by the "Killer" squadron comprising of the following 3 Osa missile boats:
    INS Nipat (Lt Cdr B.N Kavina VrC)
    INS Nirghat (Lt. Cdr I.J Sharma,AVSM,VrC )
    INS Veer (Lt Cdr O.P Mehta VrC NM)
    The Squadron commander (K-25) B.B Yadav was embarked on the Nipat. At the last minute, the Petya class vessel INS Kadmat(Cdr Tony Jain) who had been exercising with the "Killer" squadron, was replaced by INS Kiltan(Cdr K.P Gopal Rao MVC VSM) who had not worked up with the squadron and could only rendezvous with them at sea on 3 Dec.1971.On the afternoon of 4 Dec.1971,"Operation Trident" began and the strike group was on it's way to Karachi and remained in company. An oiler, INS Poshak was positioned about halfway to the target and refueled the strike force and enabled them to carry on. As per plan, the fourth missile boat INS Vidyut remained well astern to act as a deterrent in case of a counter attack by Pakistani warships. The "Killers" proceeded in an arrowhead formation, stealthily at a speed of about 24 knots with the Nipat leading and the Nirghat five miles on the port quarter and the Veer lagging behind on starboard. A number of contacts were detected en-route but were eventually analyzed as undeserving of a missile attack. Kiltan continued to pick up contacts at longer ranges due to anomalous propagation. At about 1945 hrs, Kiltan's radar picked up a Pakistani reconnaissance aircraft and immediately altered the course of the Task group westwards and succeeded in misleading the aircraft. Once the radar was clear of aircraft echo, course was altered to northward again. At 2000 hrs, Kiltan picked up a surface contact on a northeasterly bearing, steering an intercept course. When it closed in to about 15 miles, the Task group's course was again altered westward in order to prevent the contact from closing in further. After a while, the contact reduced its speed and its radar echo became smaller and disappeared. Course was again altered northward at 2014 hrs and formation speed was increased to 28 knots.
    When about 70 miles south of Karachi, a firm contact was detected to the northwest at a distance of about 45 miles and a second contact to the northeast at a range of 42 miles, heading for Karachi.K-25 evaluated the first contact to be a warship closing in at about 20 knots. This was the Pakistani destroyer Khaibar which was reportedly on patrol and somehow failed to receive orders to investigate possible contacts south of Karachi. Khaibar was also said to have intercepted a HF transmission at 1905 hrs emanating from a south-easterly direction but could not decipher the language.K-25 ordered Nirghat to alter course and engage the northwesterly contact. When Nirghat saw the destroyer coming straight at the force, she had to reverse course and complete pre-launch checks before taking the shot. Nirghat altered to port and launched an SS-N-2B Styx AsHM followed by another one a little later. Khaibar observed a 'bright light' approaching her from her starboard beam and sounded action stations and engaged the target with her Bofors guns, mistaking it to be an aircraft. The missile struck Khaibar on the starboard side and exploded below the aft galley in the Electrician's mess deck at about 2245 hrs, Pakistan time. The ship immediately lost propulsion, plunged into darkness and the No.1 Boiler room exploded, engulfing the ship in thick black smoke. Khaibar sent out an emergency transmission which read "Enemy aircraft attacked in position 020 FF 20.No 1 Boiler hit. Ship stopped." which meant that the Pakistan Navy did not even know what hit them. At about 2249 hrs, the second missile was seen approaching and again engaged in vain as it exploded into the No.2 Boiler room on the starboard side and sealed the fate of the Khaibar forever. On the bridge of the Nipat,K-25 watched eagerly as the radar contact on his screen slowly diminished and suddenly disappeared. The Pakistani ocean going minesweeper PNS Muhafiz arrived in her patrol area at 2245 hrs and witnessed the missile attack. Nipat then engaged the second contact and a third contact and fired a missile on each of these contacts at about 2300 hrs(IST), which were the Merchant vessel Venus challenger and the destroyer PNS Shahjahan respectively. The Venus challenger was completely darkened and proceeding at 16 knots. The Styx AShM struck the ship and a huge flash was seen and evaluated to be ammunition exploding. The ship broke into two and sank in less than 8 minutes, about 26 miles south of Karachi. After the war, it was reliably learnt from merchant shipping circles and Bangladeshis who deserted the Pakistan navy as well as Military attaches of foreign embassies in Pakistan that this ship was carrying a near full load of US ammunition from Saigon for the Pakistani Army and Air force which made it a target even more valuable than a warship. It was due to arrive at Karachi at 0130 hrs on 5 Dec.1971.In addition to the ship's crew, the ship was also reported to have a number of Pakistani naval officers and sailors onboard for communication and ordnance duties. The second Styx is reported to have struck the Pakistani destroyer Shahjahan crippling it beyond service though there is some controversy surrounding this. As per some Pakistani admissions, the Shahjahan was damaged beyond recognition and put out of service but their official history makes no mention of the attack and official Pakistani naval sources have given varying accounts. At one point, it is claimed that damage to Shahjahan and sinking of the merchant(Venus Challenger) are Indian exaggerations but at another point, they are baffled by the mysterious disappearance of the Venus challenger and finally conclude that it must have been sunk in the Indian attacks. But there have also been several Indian sources such as FOCINCWEST Vice Admiral Kohl who recall that both missiles fired by the Nipat homed onto the Venus challenger. Nevertheless, the squadron commander(K-25) B.B Yadav confirmed the engagement of two separate contacts and the supporting Petyas were able to intercept a message ordering the Shahjahan to assist Khaibar but the Shahjahan replied that she could not do so due to some problems!

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    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 16th February 2016 at 09:36 PM.
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  3. #31
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    Default Re: Bangladeshi War of IndependenceIndo-Pakistani War of 1971

    Dave, Watch this on you tube go to the 3rd Guns and Glory you will see the Harmattan in the footage, It sickens me to see how they glorified themselves as the killer fleet Terry.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5yCh4CERsI
    {terry scouse}

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    Default Re: Bangladeshi War of IndependenceIndo-Pakistani War of 1971

    Of course your correct Dave i was fully aware of all the casualties, The Harmattan was the only one crewed by British Merchant Seaman. And the one that was towed past us when she was grounded on the 26/12/71. That was the heart of this thread Terry.
    {terry scouse}

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    Default Re: Bangladeshi War of IndependenceIndo-Pakistani War of 1971

    #31...A maxinum of 30,000 pounds was the insurance value in 1989 in the offshore oil and gas industry. His heirs had to fight through the union to get. This applies to seamen on ships and not other oil workers. JWS.
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 13th February 2018 at 02:44 AM.

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    Default Re: Bangladeshi War of IndependenceIndo-Pakistani War of 1971

    I believe the Indian navy to this day still celebrate what they call "killers night"

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    Default Re: Bangladeshi War of IndependenceIndo-Pakistani War of 1971

    Yes they do Dave your correct, The Indian Admiralty where decorated to the hilt for there conquest, Pity the Merchant Seaman from the world over who perished where never given any kind of recognition. Terry.
    {terry scouse}

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